By JENNIKA INGRAM | Reporter
Sixteen-year-old Palisadian Matt Fahn and his team raised $221,670 as part of a Students of the Year campaign for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. He was also awarded 2020 Runner-up Student of the Year.
The Alphabet Streets resident was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma stage 1A in October 2018 at the age of 14. After three months of chemotherapy and homeschooling, Matt finished chemotherapy on January 11, 2019, returning to Palisades Charter High School in February 2019.
“We are so, so proud of Matt and his incredible work!” Senior Manager of Students of the Year program Madeleine Hamingson wrote to the Palisadian-Post. “What an amazing opportunity for him.”
The title is awarded to candidates in each community that raise the most funds during a seven-week competition, the website reports of the philanthropic leadership development program open to high school students.
“Matt’s success was truly based around the community he built up around himself and the team he led,” Hamingson shared. “Together they were able to keep pushing and driving funds.”
Matt’s mother Jewlz told the Post that Matt thought carefully about choosing a team that would be dedicated and driven for the cause.
“He thought hard about who he thought would want to do this and work hard at it, and they all did not disappoint,” Jewlz explained.
Matt put together a 10-person team with several Palisades residents, including twins Jack and Johnny Babala, Corey Ehrlich, Abby Sherridan and Eli Ghodooshim—all students at Pali High—and Palisadian David Leitz, who attends Laurel Springs.
There were also three team members from Windward School: Ben Weitz, Sophie Shwartzberg and Caroline Hannan, as well as Lucy Kahan from Crossroads School.
“Matt was a tremendous leader and pushed himself outside his comfort zone and inspired so many others to do the same,” Hamingson added. “We are so proud of Matt’s success and the incredible campaign he led.”
Students of the Year is a competition aimed to cure blood cancers and every dollar raised counts as a vote for the title.
When Matt became a cancer survivor in 2019, he wanted to give back and joined another teen’s fundraising campaign, raising $17,000. His hard work paid off, and Matt won 2019 Teammate of the Year for the most money raised by one person.
Then, Matt was nominated to run for SOY himself.
His team, “Tackling Cancer,” began its fundraising campaign on January 16, with an extremely ambitious goal to raise $200,000.
Yet, Matt and his team surpassed their goal.
The Grande Finale Celebration event for the Students of the Year took place at Taglyan Complex in Los Angeles early March 2020 when Matt was awarded Runner-Up for Student of the Year.
“I know that the money raised is going toward saving lives,” Matt wrote to the Post.
During the event, Matt finished his speech with “I’m not done yet,” a sentiment echoed by Jewlz who said, “I really don’t think he is. He’s going to do great things.”
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